Organisers of the Cultural Olympiad, the arts programme planned around the 2012 Olympics, have hailed the line-up of the 12-week arts festival as “incredible” after announcing an all-star cast including Gorillaz pair Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, Hollywood stars Cate Blanchett and Jude Law and pop art pioneer David Hockney.
© Bill Ebbesen
The London 2012 Festival will present more than 1,000 events between June and September 2012, ranging from an athletics film by Mike Leigh and new dance commissions by Akram Khan to a World Shakespeare Festival and major exhibitions of work by Lucien Freud, Martin Creed, Olafur Eliasson and Rachel Whiteread.
Blanchett and the Sydney Theatre Company will perform Botho Strauss’ masterpiece, Gross und Klein, and Albarn and Hewlett have conceived their latest compositions in collaboration with the Manchester International Festival, who are expected to announce full details next year.
A trip to Afghanistan by actor Law will also be documented as part of the Peace One Day Concert in Derry, which doubles as the opening event for the programme.
“Today an invitation has gone out to the UK and to people across the world to join an extraordinary, inspirational party,” said Ed Vaizey, the Minister for Culture.
“Plans for the London 2012 Festival capture the spirit of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. They are exciting, ambitious and diverse, and this is only the beginning.”
Vaizey said “hundreds of thousands” of tickets would be available for free during a season defined as “a stupendous summer of sports and arts” by Cultural Olympiad Chair Tony Hall.
“2012 will be a magical summer and the Festival will play a huge part in ensuring everyone can be part of the greatest show on Earth,” added Sebastian Coe, the leader of the London 2012 project.
“The Festival is an incredible, UK-wide opportunity to be part of 2012.”
More than three million people are expected to head for events publicised on a special website which will go live next summer.
Among other highlights, composer Philip Glass and director Robert Wilson give a UK premiere to Einstein on the Beach, an opera which was first seen in France 34 years ago, and Toni Morrison, the Nobel Prize-winning writer, conspires with award-winning Malian musician Rokia Traore for a performance co-commissioned with the Barbican.
Half the fun may be in the mystery – Radio 1 leads a “major outdoor music event” in East London, Africa Express comprises concerts for more than 500,000 people at “landmark sites” along the Thames, and the Royal Shakespeare Company infiltrates the Roundhouse, Barbican, National Theatre and British Museum for a Festival utilising the brilliance of National Theatre Wales, the Iraqi Theatre Company and Companhia Bufomecanica, from Rio de Janeiro.
“The calibre of the people announced today underlines the ambition of the London 2012 Festival,” chirped Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London.
“'We've less than 600 days to the start of the greatest sporting show on Earth and want to match it with a cultural programme that is also memorable and exciting. It will be a series of fantastic events to mark an unforgettable year in London's history.”
More than 11 million people have taken part in Cultural Olympiad events since the project began in 2008.